Friday 10 July, 2020

Ministry of Health warns against return to normal behavior

Chief Medical Officer Dr Sharon Belmar-George

Chief Medical Officer Dr Sharon Belmar-George

Today marks six months since the reporting of the first case of COVID-19 to the World Health Organization.

Since then we have witnessed the spread of the virus across the globe, evidence of how closely interconnected we are despite our geographical boundaries.

This reinforces the reminders from the Ministry of Health that despite our last case of COVID-19 being recorded on June 4, the continued spread of COVID-19 globally justifies our need for continued vigilance and precaution locally.

Added to this, the single highest global record of new cases was recorded yesterday by the World Health Organization.

The threat of the COVID-19 epidemic remains real and a public health priority to every nation, including ours.

At this stage, practically all national sectors have re-opened, with the exception of mass crowd events. We note that with time there is a tendency for persons to go back to old and familiar behaviours and as such, there has been an apparent lessening in adherence on the public health measures by some members of the public.

As social activity has increased and the impending reopening of Saint Lucia to commercial travel, the public is reminded to continue adhering to recommended measures.

These include:

  • regular handwashing with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer where soap and water is not available
  • cover mouth and nose with disposable tissues or clothing when coughing and sneezing
  • avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing
  • wear your homemade or cloth mask whenever leaving home
  • maintain a 6-foot distance when in public even while wearing a mask
  • seek medical attention if you have symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness
  • when shopping, refrain from touching items unless you intend to buy them
  • avoid mass crowd events and activities at this time

In March 2020 the public health team of the Ministry of Health and Wellness estimated the region would be managing COVID-19 for the next 2 years.

The Director of PAHO Dr Carissa Etienne on June 27, 2020, advised the Caribbean to prepare to manage COVID-19 for the next 2 years.

Public health protocols have been recommended for every sector as we implement the phased re-opening of the economy.

These measures ensure physical distancing, infection prevention and control and source control. We understand the inconvenience they pose on everyone, but we must remain focused on the aim to reduce and prevent the transmission of COVID-19 at all levels.

Although at this point, our last community case was over 2 months ago and we continue to note negative results on testing, the protocols remain important as we continue to move forward.

As we move into the phases of higher risk we anticipate the introduction of cases with both returning nationals and tourist arrivals. The maintenance of these protocols will allow the country to continue functioning while we manage in-country cases without continuous shutdowns.

These protocols are in place to protect the consumer, the workers and the owners of establishments. The Ministry of Health and Wellness encourages all sectors to continue working with them as we continue managing COVID-19.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness congratulates the Ministry of Education for its commitment and dedicated effort at re-opening its sector while making priority the protection of the health and safety of all its stakeholders.

The Ministry of Education successfully re-opened school for specific groups of students, which included grade six students and their successful completion of the common entrance exams.

The reports from the Environmental Health Officers and Public Health Nurses on the measures implemented by the various schools to facilitate the phased re-opening have been very positive. The Ministry of Health and Wellness will continue collaborating with the Ministry of Education as we move forward.

The Community Wellness centres and respiratory clinics remain open to provide care to all in need, please utilise their services in a timely manner. 

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